Stages on the Path of Realization
Hazrat Inayat Khan
All that man considers beautiful, precious and good, is not
necessarily in the thing or the being; it is in his ideal; the
thing or being causes him to create the beauty, value and
goodness in his own mind. Man believes in God by making Him an
ideal of his worship, so that he can commune with someone whom he
can look up to; in whom he can lay his absolute trust, believing
Him to be above the unreliable world; on whose mercy he can
depend, seeing selfishness all round him. It is this ideal when
made of a stone, and placed in a shrine, which is called an idol
of God; and when the same ideal is raised to the higher plane and
placed in the shrine of the heart, it becomes the ideal of God
with whom the believer communes and in whose vision he lives most
happily, as happily as could be, in the company of the sovereign
of the whole universe.
To Part Four
The successful travellers on the path of love are those whose
love is so beautiful that it provides all the beauty that their
ideal lacks. The lover by doing this in time rises above the
changeable and limited beauty of the beloved, but begins to see
into the beloved's inner being; in other words, the exterior of
the beloved was only a means of drawing the love out of the heart
of the lover, but the love led him from the external to the
innermost being of the ideal of his love. When in the ideal the
lover has realized the unlimited and perfect Being, whether he
loves man or God, he is in fact in either case a blissful lover.
In this the journey through the path of idealism is ended and a
journey through the divine ideal is begun, for the God-ideal is
necessary for the attainment of life's perfection. Man then seeks
for a perfect object of love, idealizing God, the whole Being,
the Infinite, who is above all the world's lights and shades,
good and ill, who is pure from all limitations, births or deaths,
unchangeable, inseparable from us, all-pervading, present always
before the vision of his lover.
The God-ideal was taught to man gradually. There was a time
when a certain rock was recognized as God. People at one period
considered certain plants as sacred; at another, certain animals
and birds. For instance, the cow and the eagle were considered as
sacred creatures. Many worshipped the primal elements in nature,
such as earth, water, fire, and air. People worshipped the
spirits of mountains, hills, trees, plants, birds, and animals,
until the God-ideal was raised to the Absolute.
In reality the first lesson about the presence of God is, as a
philosopher says, 'If you have no god, make one for yourself.'
How true it is that before one comes to the real conception of
God, the first thing is to build Him in one's heart. The word God
has the same origin as the word good, but its original in the old
Hebrew means 'ideal'.
What is ideal? Ideal is something we make. When we believe a
person is very good we think of that goodness; it surrounds that
person, and our artistic and idealistic tendencies help to paint
his goodness as beautifully, as well as we can. We can crown it
by our artistic faculty; that is called an ideal.
The ideal of perfection is the ideal of God, and we will turn
to it in our troubles or worries or fears. If we are afraid of
death, yet have that ideal by our side, we feel protected. If we
are disappointed in anything, still there is that ideal by our
side, to reassure us; we say, 'I do not mind, I am not really
disappointed; for Thou art present in my heart; I feel Thy
presence; Thou hast become my ideal'. In trouble, in pain, in
poverty, in difficulty, or friendless, in all these things which
no one in the world can escape, there He is beside us. The older
we grow, the more we feel, 'As long as I can be of use to the
world, so long will the world want me. As soon as I can be of no
service, of no use, then the world will get tired of me, it will
not want me. The world wants that which is not myself. If I am
wealthy, the world is after my wealth, not me; if I am in a high
position, the world is after me because of my position, not
because of me. The world goes after false things. The world is
false. The only protection from it is to have that ideal of God
alive and constantly present. With that ideal I can be satisfied,
and have rest and peace; not only on earth but even in the
hereafter I shall be in the arms of the Divine!'
No one can ever be so dear, so close, neither children,
husband, wife, nor friend as that perfect Ideal. That Ideal will
never fail. He will always be with us here and hereafter. We
belong to Him. From Him we came; to Him we return. By feeling the
presence of that Ideal always in our hearts, we feel the
springing up of every kind of beauty, of every impulse, thought
and imagination, of everything that comes out of ourselves or
that we see all round us. We identify it all with God in the end.
To the person who creates the presence of God the whole life
around becomes one single vision of the Immanence of God.
The reason why the soul seeks for the God-ideal is that it is
dissatisfied with all that gives only momentary satisfaction.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
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